Watercolour tinkering

Continuing with my sketchbook odyssey, here are a couple of recent ones… and I wonder if any of the eagle-eyed amongst you can spot anything different with my palette?

This quick sketch is based on a watercolour painting by Edward Seago
Sussex haybales – from a recent road trip

So. Any ideas on my spot the difference challenge? Well, here’s what my Frazer Price used to look like:

How my palette used to look!

Note the three welled plastic palette that I’d cut to size and inserted into the palette. While this was okay, and did allow me to mix up some larger quantities of paint than was possible on the flat surfaces, I never really enjoyed painting from these. Maybe I’ve been spoiled over the past few years by only mixing my paint on enamalled surfaces!

Anyway, it’s long been on my mind to come up with something better and, while I had the idea for this some time ago, its only in the past few weeks of using this palette that I’ve been spurred into action!

From pie dish to watercolour palette

My idea was to create a single large mixing well out of a small enamelled pie dish. I had already bought one of these some time ago so all I needed was some time and a bit of consideration as to how to do it! I had intended to document this process more thoroughly but, as it was, I got a bit carried away and only thought about photographing it when I was pretty much done and dusted with it.

Here are a few images however that I hope will make it clear! I first secured the pie dish to a piece of wood that I could in turn secure onto a workbench. I then took my trusty angle grinder armed with a fine cutting disk and set to work.

I’d already marked out the pie dish by sitting it into the palette, drawing a line around the palette and then using masking tape to mark the line that I needed to cut along. The main challenge was that I was trying to cut a straight line when the pie dish was curved in three directions!

After much cutting, re-cutting, grinding and finally a bit of filing to smooth off the rough edges, I eventually had a dish that fitted into the palette. It wasn’t perfect, but I figured that with the amount of thought and time I’d put into this so far, I had to see it through!

As you can see from these images, there was a little bit of a gap here and there, the some of the enamel has been chipped in the cutting process but I thought that I could patch up all of this with some carefully applied silicone:

I’ve only been able to use this a few times since completing it and so far, it’s great! It feels wonderful to mix paints on this surface and it’s big enough to cope with larger brushes and significanlty more water that anything I’d been able to do previously.

Naturally this little project – and using this palette so much of late – has only deepened my affection for the wonderful Frazer Price Palette and I look forward to using it for many years to come!

In other news…

I’m pleased to report that my back continues to recover and is feeling better by the day! I’m doing stretches daily and, in the past week I’ve been on my bike for the first time in ages, been swimming in the sea and have even started skipping again! My back still protests at quite a few things, especially sitting for prolonged periods of time but it feels like a world of difference from this time last month ago, which is when it really started to deteriorate.

I suppose that with all of this activity, plus my watercolour DIY tinkering and being back at work again, start of the new school term etc – there hasn’t really been that much time left for any painting! Hopefully things will balance out a little more in favour of painting in the weeks ahead!

Thoughts on Watercolour tinkering

11 thoughts on “Watercolour tinkering”

  1. That looks great. Every artist modifies what they have for their own specific needs and wants. You did a great job. (BTW I noticed the change right away.)

    I wanted a large squirrel quill travel brush and ended up making my own.

    I put magnets on the bottoms of my whole pans, remove the trays from my Roberson and put the whole pans in. I can fit more that way, plus switch them in and out when I change color palettes. I’m a big believer in magnets. I use magnet clips on my sketchbooks, placed magnet side up, to hold my smaller travel palettes, do I can hold both my book and palette in one hand and have the other free for painting. I’ve got some modifications for handling water too. I’ve got two large plastic bird feeders that hang from the cage bars with stiff wire that I use to hang from my easel or palette instead. I look in the housewares or pet department and find all sorts of stuff I can repurpose. The tool and hardware aisle too.

    I still have plans to design my own leather tooled case but that is still on hold with so many other projects of necessity cutting the line to the top of the to-do list.

    I do enjoy seeing all of your modifications. This one is beyond me but it stimulates the mind to a different solution that doesn’t involve an angle grinder.

    1. Hi Mary and many thanks for this and it’s always nice to meet a fellow tinkerer! (I’m sure I get it from my parents who were very much of the make do and mend mentality!) Even so, I doubt I’d ever consider my own brush, so hats off to you for that! I do like your magnet idea and would love to get some tips on the magnets your using! In my researching of enamelled trays and dishes, I came across a few that I thought would be ideal for customising into a palette but I’ve not yet come across the right magnets that I think I’d need! Would welcome any tips on that!

      Many thanks Mary and all the best for your paintings and your tinkerings!

  2. Hi John
    I do really like your sketches with their immediacy and style
    Glad the back is a bit better
    Nice modification the palette, I will have a look at mine too.
    Currently painting in sunny! Yorkshire.

    1. Hi Brian and many thanks for this and am really pleased you like the sketches – sometimes doing these just feels like a really good way of just keeping the brushes moving when I don’t have the time/inspiration for anything larger or more ‘finished’. Re modifying your palette… you’d be welcome to have the plastic wells that I’ve just removed from mine if they’d be of any use to you, just let me know? In the meantime, I hope Yorkshire treats you well. I’m originally from Lancashire, just on the edge of the Pennines. I rarely go back now but the paintings of Paul Talbot Greaves and Geoff Butterworth are incredibly evocative to me of where I grew up!

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this

Shopping Basket

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.